How We Treat Ankle Sprains At Featherston Street Pain Clinic

Our 3 Step Treatment Process

Given how common sprained ankles are, it is surprising how few people clearly understand what effective treatment and rehabilitation look like. We often work with accomplished athletes who aren’t clear what sprained ankle treatment involves, or how to ensure the sprained ankle doesn’t re-occur. Here is a basic overview of effective sprained ankle treatment and rehabilitation. 

Step One

Reduce Swelling

Step Two

Boost Circulation

Step Three

Rehabilitation And Prevention

Step One - Reduce swelling – Prevent Further Damage

This phase of sprained ankle treatment is the one that most people have a fairly good grasp of. The RICE principle makes it nice and easy to remember Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevation.

This phase of sprained ankle treatment is very well known. Most athletes and active people are aware of these principles and most do a pretty good job of treating sprained ankles in this early phase. But simply reducing swelling and pain does not necessarily indicate a full healing or successful treatment of a sprained ankle. Which is why we don’t stop there.

Step Two - Boost Circulation – Encourage Healthy Scar Formation – Re-establish Tissue Mobility

The second phase of sprained ankle treatment is often completely overlooked. The hallmark of this phase is having some professionals get stuck into hands on treatment for the sprain.

In our clinic Phase 2 sprained ankle treatments include laser therapy, shockwave therapy,  acupuncture, manual mobilisation, deep tissue release, hot & cold, vibration massage, Graston Technique (scraping scar tissue) & joint manipulation. 

This ‘sub acute’ phase of sprained ankle treatment often requires a great deal of work. Maintaining our bodies in good general health requires a lot of work too so perhaps it’s not so surprising that fully healing sprained ankles is not entirely spontaneous.

Before we lived in cities and worked at desks we hunted and gathered for a living. Under those circumstances an injured ankle would have received a great deal more movement and stimulation than modern sprained ankles do. This may be why many ankle sprains seem to require a great deal of stimulation in order to heal properly.

Restore Full Joint Movement – Strengthen Muscle – Re-Establish Balance

This phase of healing and treatment for sprained ankles is commonly understood but seldom followed through on particularly well.

Many ankle sprain sufferers end a loss of muscle strength & poor proprioception (think balance) following a decent sprained ankle.

Phase 3 should involve a minimum of 3-6 MONTHS of daily balance work for the ankle to be safe in the longer term. This just involves 10 mins a day on a wobble board plus a couple of mobility exercises. Really bad sprains actually warrant a couple of years of steady attention in this way and should be tested regularly for balance gains!

This all may seem like a lot of work. It is worth bearing in mind, the incidence of re-injury and the need for further treatment even years later with sprained ankles is astronomically high.

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Treatments And Technologies We Use To Treat Ankle Sprains

The ultimate key to successful treatment of ankle sprains is working with a team who are willing to take a sufficiently flexible approach, and trial a number of different therapies to see what works best on your specific case.

Low Energy Laser Therapy is the application of specific deeply penetrating light waves to a painful area. Light with a wavelength in the red to near infrared region of the spectrum (660nm–905nm) is generally employed because these wavelengths have the ability to penetrate skin, and soft/hard tissues.

 A great many clinical trials have shown this type of treatment has a meaningful effect on pain, inflammation and tissue repair. In our experience people with neck pain often experience immediate improvements in their pain after laser sessions. 

Many people suffer with recurrent ankle sprains caused by old unhealed ankle injuries. Naturally, one of the long term repercussions of old injuries is scar tissue. That’s where shockwave therapy comes in.

Shockwave Therapy is a non-surgical – non-drug-based – scientifically approved therapy that is widely used as a pain treatment. There have been literally hundreds of studies that support the use of shockwave therapy for a very wide range of painful complaints.

Shockwave Therapy was originally developed for its application as a non-invasive treatment of kidney stones. We use a gentler form of the same technology to break up deep muscle knots, calcified tendons and tracts of scar tissue. This makes shockwave therapy particularly useful for resolving the fallout from bad sprained ankles. For more information on shockwave therapy visit our shockwave homepage here.

Gait Analysis & Stride Analysis tools are for people who are interested in long term prevention of pain. When the root cause of your pain has been uncovered it takes all the guess-work out of treatment and rehabilitation of pain. Deep insights into our movement patterns are now possible: with the use of cloud based AI machine learning; and complex sensors that go in your shoes while you perform movement tests.This data opens the door to tailored forms of rehabilitation

We believe that all pains have a story to tell and that there are genuine underlying physical issues behind all stubborn pain.  In other words, you don’t get sore overnight, and you certainly don’t get chronic pain overnight, unless you have had a real physical issue. Gait Analysis & Stride Analysis are designed to identify these issues.

Orthotics are a tool that have helped millions of people move past exactly the type of stubborn pains that tend to chip away at the fun, freedom, and choice that make life enjoyable.

An averagely active person takes in excess of 3 million steps per year. Modern humans do all this on extremely flat, hard surfaces like concrete, tarmac and paving stones. Hard, flat surfaces are as stressful to our joints and connective tissues as sugar is to our teeth. This is a major part of why we live in an epidemic of lower body pain and degeneration.

Orthotics are a way of protecting us from the lifelong strain concrete and tarmac inflict on our tissues.. The Increased support for the foot that orthotics provide often brings greater ease and freedom to our movements in the long term. The benefits are often felt not only in the feet, ankles, and knees but even in the back and hips.

Most ankles with persistent or recurring pain following a sprain are full of ‘pressure points’ or myofascial trigger points (the sore spots you feel in muscles when you get a deep massage). At Featherston St. Pain Clinic we consider ourselves experts at finding and releasing the most stubborn trigger points. It’s not always fun to have done (we know that ourselves) but boy can it help with persistent ankle pain; when it’s done properly!

Acupuncture can be extremely helpful in the management of many ankle sprains. We don’t approach acupuncture in the traditional way where needles are placed in a wide no.of locations, we  focus directly on the area of pain. 

Acupuncture aims to promote blood flow, release pressure points in muscle and reduce pain signals. Needles are placed around the area of pain and we generally leave them in for around 10 minutes, depending on your body’s tolerance to them. If acupuncture works for your ankles sprain, you will usually start to feel the benefits within the first 2-3 sessions.

A large number of people suffer with recurrent ankle sprains caused in part by old unhealed injuries. These injuries can come from almost any historical ankle injury,or even hip, knee injuries. Naturally, one of the long term repercussions of old injuries is scar tissue. 

Scraping gently in and around the connective tissues and muscle using a blunt scraping tool is the basic method behind how we manage scar tissue in the ankle. Guasha is the old Chinese name for this technique but there are many others from different cultures and there are more modern techniques like Graston Technique. The idea with all of them is to break up and assist with remodeling of microscopic scar tissue adhesions, which are a major cause of ankle sprains.

Percussive movements have been an established component of soft tissue release, massage and even respiratory healthcare for thousands of years, and it is no less effective today. Percussion massage as treatment for ankle spaains generally involves the use of mechanical massage devices. It is designed to reduce muscle tension and promote blood flow within the soft tissues.

Heaps of people find the application of ice packs for the treatment of their ankle sprain can prove to be very beneficial. Ice works by interrupting pain signals within the nerve, stimulates the activity of blood vessels, and reduces both inflammatory and pain chemistry in the soft tissues. 

One of the most common questions we get asked is whether heat or ice is better. Nine times out of ten ice is a better option than heat when you have pain. Heat can be a bit of a tricky one because it does often feel soothing at the time. Sometime after heat application however you may have more pain than you might otherwise have had.

The short term use of bracing and taping can be a very useful part of ankle sprain management. Minimising the risk of further tearing in the ankle ligaments is perhaps the most obvious goal of successful ankle sprain treatment.

We are strong advocates of the minimal use of supports, braces and splints for all pains. Modern pain management is all about an early return to full function and weight bearing. The scientific evidence on injury management broadly supports this philosophy.

Our 5 Pain Treatment Fundamentals

Hands On Treatments

We are in the business of helping you get out of pain. The beating heart of our clinical process is a committed and very hands on approach to getting you out of pain as quickly, painlessly and safely as possible. We are willing to use a wide range of tools and also to work tirelessly in our efforts to get you out of pain.

Flexible Treatment Approach

Even among professionals there is little agreement on the best ways to treat pain. If there is one thing that we know for certain about pain management though, it’s that a flexible multidisciplinary treatment approach to pain is best. This is why we take such great care to provide the most diverse range of pain relief tools possible under one roof.

Get To The Bottom Of It

The human body seldom if ever generates pain for no reason. Pain is a highly organised and intelligent form of feedback that we have evolved over millions of years. In other words if you have pain it will be for a good reason. We always strive to find the deepest possible explanation for your pain so that you have the best possible chance of preventing it in the longer term.

Excellent Communication

Unlike a one-off filling at the dentist, successfully managing pain is a process. A process that often requires commitment, trust and clear communication. We believe that clear and open communication combined with genuine rapport are fundamental within our arsenal of pain management tools.

Assume Nothing 

Just because a treatment has worked for us a thousand times before; doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work on you! Pain management is not a ‘1 size fits all’ moment in life. We monitor our patients’ response to treatment very closely. This approach enables us to make agile treatment protocols that can be altered in real time should we find that you aren’t responding to the methods that we expect to work for you.